Update from the Chamber

Judge Roy Moore is April breakfast speaker

Judge Roy Moore will be the featured speaker at the monthly Blount County- Oneonta Chamber of Commerce breakfast scheduled for Thursday, April 22, at Twin Oaks. The program begins at 7:30 a.m. and will be sponsored by Spring Valley Beach.

Judge Moore, a candidate for the 2010 Republican gubernatorial nomination, will conclude the series featuring the eight candidates vying for the Democratic and Republican nominations for governor.

He is a native of Etowah County and graduated from Etowah High School in 1965. Judge Moore obtained a bachelor of science degree in 1969 from the United States Military Academy at West Point. After military service, Judge Moore returned to Alabama where he completed his juris doctorate degree in 1977 from the University of Alabama School of Law.

He served our country as a captain in the Military Police Corps of the U.S. Army. During his professional career, Judge Moore became the first full-time deputy district attorney in Etowah County, serving from 1977 until 1982. In 1984, Judge Moore began a private law practice in Gadsden, which he left in 1992 when he became a circuit judge for the Sixteenth Judicial Circuit. Judge Moore served in this capacity until his election as chief justice of the Alabama Supreme Court in November 2000.

He served as chief justice until 2003, when he was removed from office. He was a candidate for the Republican nomination for governor in 2006, finishing second to Gov. Bob Riley.

Breakfast sponsor

A special thanks to Spring Valley Beach for sponsoring the April breakfast. Spring Valley Beach is owned and operated in Blountsville by the Allen Gilliland family. It is home to one of the largest, if not the largest, swimming pool in the Southeastern United States. Currently, improvements are being made to the entrance of the facility, as well as to the playground. New rides are being added to the kiddie pool.

Spring Valley Beach is featured prominently in the new tourism video produced by the chamber. The pool currently features three water slides and is constantly upgraded to offer additional entertaining activities. Allen Gilliland is a member of the Blount County-Oneonta Chamber of Commerce Board of Directors. A special thanks to the Gilliland family for assisting the chamber in bringing another important program to our community.

February unemployment rate

The Alabama Department of Industrial Relations released unemployment data for February 2010 on March 26. Director Tom Surtees announced that employment in Alabama increased in February for the first time in three months. Surtees also announced that the state’s unemployment rate for February remained unchanged from January at 11.1 percent. This rate represents 227,717 unemployed persons. Wage and salary employment in the state increased 11,300 during the month. Alabama had the 41st-highest national jobless rate. The unemployment rate for the United States during February 2010 was 9.7 percent, unchanged from January 2010. There were positive signs in the release as unemployment numbers fell or remained the same in all but 12 of Alabama’s 67 counties, and the number of Alabamians filing initial claims for unemployment dropped 61 percent since the third week of January.

Blount County tied with Baldwin County for the 13th-lowest jobless rate during February 2010 at 11.1 percent. This is the same rate reported for Blount during January 2010. Blount’s February rate represents 2776 citizens out of work, an increase of nine from January. Of the 24,941 reported in the February civilian workforce, 22,165 were employed. The jobless rate for February 2009 in Blount County was 8.6 percent.

During February 2010, 60 Alabama counties reported a jobless rate of 10 percent or higher. During that time, 22 Alabama counties reported jobless rates of 15 percent or higher. And, eight counties reported rates of 18 percent or higher.

The Alabama counties enjoying the lowest unemployment rates in February 2010 were as follows: 1) Madison, 8.3 percent; 2) Shelby and Coffee, 8.5 percent; 3) Pike, 8.9 percent; 4) Tuscaloosa and Autauga, 9.4 percent; and 5) Lee, 9.5 percent.

The counties enduring the highest jobless rates included: 67) Wilcox, 27 percent; 66) Monroe, 21.4 percent; 65) Conecuh and Dallas, 20.3 percent: 64) Winston, 19.4 percent; and 63) Clarke, 18.3 percent.

Thirty-five of the 50 states and Washington, D.C., had jobless rates of less than 10 percent. The states with the lowest unemployment rates were as follows: 1) North Dakota, 4.1 percent; 2) Nebraska and South Dakota, 4.8 percent; 3) Kansas, 6.5 percent; 4) Vermont, 6.6 percent; and 5) Iowa and Oklahoma, 6.7 percent.

States reporting the highest rates included: 51) Michigan, 14.1 percent; 50) Nevada, 13.2 percent; 49) Rhode Island, 12.7 percent; 48) South Carolina and California, 12.5 percent; and 47) Florida, 12.2 percent.

Demographics

Annual population estimates released by the U.S. Census Bureau last week indicate that 34 of Alabama’s 67 counties lost population from 2000 to 2009. Alabama’s population grew at a rate of 5.9 percent to 4.7 million during the same period. The rural counties, primarily those in the Black Belt, lost residents due to a lack of jobs and work opportunities.

Blount County was the ninth-fastest growing county from 2000 to 2009 at 14.4 percent. Twelve counties grew at a rate of 10 percent or more during the last decade. The Huntsville and Auburn- Opelika metropolitan statistical areas grew the fastest, increasing more than 18 percent since 2000.

The counties that grew the fastest were as follows: 1) Shelby, 34.4 percent; 2) Baldwin, 28.1 percent; 3) St. Clair, 26.5 percent; 4) Elmore, 20.3 percent; and 5) Limestone, 19.6 percent.

The counties that lost the most population included: 67) Sumter, 13.1 percent; 66) Choctaw, 12.1 percent; 65) Greene, 11.5 percent; 64) Coosa, 11 percent; and 63) Lamar, 10.7 percent.

Public golf courses

The March 19, 2010, edition of The
Birmingham Business Journal
listed the most-difficult-to-play golf courses in the seven-county Birmingham Metropolitan Area. It probably comes as no surprise to local golfers that Limestone Springs was ranked as the most difficult course and Heritage tied for the 12th-most difficult course. Both courses are featured in a new tourism video produced by the Blount County-Oneonta Chamber of Commerce and can be viewed by going online at www.blountoneontachamber.org.

Conclusion

The annual chamber banquet will be held May 11 at the World Outreach Center. Stephen Foster Black will be the featured speaker, and awards will be given to the citizen of the year, business of the year, industry of the year, and teachers of the year. You may call the chamber at 205-274-2153 to purchase tickets or to reserve tables.

April will conclude the speaker series featuring the gubernatorial candidates for the 2010 Democratic and Republican nominations for governor of Alabama. This has been a venue to allow locals to examine the platform of each candidate and to make an informed decision as to which one can best deal with the many problems facing the state.

By working together, we are making a very good community even better.